Helen Lynn and her family lived at 11 Menston Road in Westville. They bought the house in 1977 from the original owners who had built it. One morning in 1993 Helen’s 21 year old son Jack, who was a Technikon student at the time, had a motor accident in Jan Hofmeyr Road in Westville, as a result of which he suffered multiple injuries, including severe head injuries. He was rushed to Entabeni Hospital where he underwent immediate brain surgery. His parents were informed by the neurosurgeon that he was not expected to recover and, if he did, he would be virtually “brain dead” and would require permanent care in a home. Against all odds he did recover and the surgeon was later to call him his “miracle man.” When he was discharged from hospital 2½ months later, the neurosurgeon said that he had done all he could do and it would now be necessary for his parents to find therapists who could assist with his rehabilitation. They were put in touch with Rose McArthur and told of Headway, an international organisation working to assist brain injury carers. A KZN branch was then operating locally from premises in Sherwood where carers met once a month to have discussions and give each other support. They occasionally had a guest speaker but at that stage there were no therapists and each family had to take it upon themselves to find their own therapists.
Helen was then introduced to the Smith family who had become involved with Headway when their daughter suffered a stroke at the age of about 19. They decided that something should be organised to assist such victims and their families. From the premises in Sherwood they moved to a property on Fields Hill where they met on Saturday mornings. These meetings included carers and survivors, but there was still no therapy for their rehabilitation. When that property was no longer available, they met on Saturday mornings at the premises of Robin Dales in Pinetown. This continued until Robin Dales informed them that he needed the property for his business and he could not allow them to use it any longer. It was clear that they needed their own premises and a search began for somewhere suitable. By this time they had met a couple whose son had suffered a head injury. The father, Peter Lambouris, who was a manager at Pick ‘n Pay, said he could arrange finance for the purchase of a property. Helen in the meanwhile had joined the Headway committee and she received a phone call one day from one of the committee members, suggesting that the committee should look at a property in Saturn Road in Westville North which might be possible for Headway. Unfortunately, Saturn Road was not centrally situated, was not on a bus route and the property had very limited parking space, so the committee decided that it would not be suitable. By this time, however, Helen and her family were thinking of downsizing and realised that their house in Menston Road would be ideal, situated as it is in central Westville, close to public transport and with adequate parking. Negotiations began, the necessary financial arrangements were made by Peter Lambouris and in 1998, five years after Jack’s accident, Headway took over the house at 11 Menston Road, which has become its local headquarters. The Smith family were very involved at that stage but gradually withdrew and the McArthur family became involved, with Lionel McArthur becoming the first Manager. At first the house dealt mostly with brain injuries but later included stroke victims. Initially it was simply a place where patients could be cared for in order to give personal carers support and enable them to have a break, but gradually it was built up to the organisation it is today, offering professional rehabilitation with physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy, as well as offering group therapy and a social environment where patients can relax and interact with one another.
Headway House was officially opened by Mrs. Wendy Ackerman of Pick ‘n Pay on 19th August 1998.